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Arsenal 4-1 Newcastle United: Magpies gunned down by free-firing Arteta squad

Arsenal maintained their rampant Premier League form in 2024 with an overwhelming 4-1 home triumph against underperforming Newcastle United on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta’s side sought redemption for a 1-0 heartache at Porto in midweek Champions League action but, more importantly, revenge for a controversial defeat in the reverse fixture at St James’ Park.

Anthony Gordon’s second-half winner propelled the Magpies to an ill-tempered 1-0 victory in November, but things have changed dramatically in both camps since then.

Following a five-game winning Premier League start to the new calendar year for the first time in the club’s history, Arsenal took the field as genuine title contenders, trailing leaders Liverpool by five points.

But with a game in hand, the Gunners’ title aspirations are firmly on course, while a long-standing injury crisis is taking its toll on mid-table Newcastle.

Despite going unbeaten in four league matches in the build-up to this clash, Eddie Howe’s charges were no match for the high-flying London outfit.

Only one side existed in the first half. Determined to settle the score after November’s upset, Arsenal assumed control of the game from the outset, albeit failed to create many openings in the first 15 minutes.

Significant ball possession and intense high press paid off in the 18th minute as Newcastle defender Sven Botman hit the wrong net to put the Gunners in front.

Slow to recover from an early blow, the Magpies soon found themselves 2-0 down, with Kai Havertz finishing a brilliant team effort with a routine strike from point-blank range.

Gabriel Martinelli picked up the ball in his stride on the right side and whipped in an inviting low cross towards the six-yard box, leaving the German star with the goal at his mercy.

Buoyed by a two-goal cushion in the opening 24 minutes, Arteta’s team continued to dominate the game, restricting Newcastle to just 36% ball possession.

Not a single attempt on goal and zero touches in the opposition’s box perhaps best illustrates the visitors’ inability to keep up with Arsenal’s brutal pace before half-time.

If it’s any consolation, Newcastle alleviated some pressure in front of Loris Karius’ goal for the remainder of the first half, even though the Gunners refused to push the ‘stop’ button.

The start of the second half resembled the opening 20 minutes of the game as Arsenal came knocking on Karius’ door only two minutes after the break.

Martinelli could’ve turned from provider into executioner, but his close-range effort flew a whisker wide of the right post, offering Newcastle some respite.

It took the Magpies over an hour to create their first presentable opportunity, but they couldn’t put David Raya to the test.

Alexander Isak made a phenomenal solo run, evading several challenges inside the box before flashing his shot fractionally off the mark.

Isak’s attempt prompted a telling response from Arsenal as Bukayo Saka got on the scoresheet with a superb strike from inside the box to make it 3-0 in the 65th minute.

Unwilling to rest on their laurels, the Gunners pushed for a fourth and grabbed it just four minutes later.

It was Jakub Kiwior’s turn to beat Karius this time. The Polish defender raised above his markers to connect his thumping header with Declan Rice’s cross and open his Arsenal account.

Kiwior’s goal was the 16th Newcastle have conceded in the Premier League since the calendar year flipped to 2024, flagging Howe’s backline as the most problematic area.

By contrast, Arsenal have not only won all six league matches this calendar year, but they netted 25 goals in those victories, demonstrating unparalleled attacking prowess.

However, Newcastle had ‘the last laugh’ as former ‘Gunner’ Joe Willock headed home Dan Burn’s cross to get Newcastle on the board at the Emirates Stadium for the first time since 2014.

And while the victory keeps Arsenal within striking distance of their first Premier League title in two decades, another disaster leaves the Magpies’ European ambitions in tatters.

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